Best way to watch AVI/MP4/DiVX on TV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by tentimestwenty, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. tentimestwenty macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2003
    I don't want an AppleTV because I have to convert all my AVI/MP4/DiVX files to the Apple format. What is the easiest way to get the files from my computer onto the TV? Cheaper is better. Are there DVD players that can take a USB stick with the files on them? Perhaps a set top box that plays nice with Mac?
  2. srl7741 macrumors 68020


    Jan 19, 2008
    In my world
    Mac Mini

    A Mac Mini would be one solution. You would be able to play all those and more.
  3. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    A hacked Apple TV will play those files and is certainly less expensive than a Mac mini. You can also look at the Western Digital HD Media Player, which supports a ton of file formats and codecs and has the added bonus of allowing for plug-and-play USB devices. Toss a movie on a flash drive and you are good to go.
  4. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    I have several devices which play these formats:

    Philips DVD player with USB port - got tired of transferring files to a stick to play and the interface is horrendous. It also hiccuped on a couple of formats.

    WD TV - plays most everything, including most high def stuff, but the interface is clunky, you have to attach a drive to it (and unhook/re-hook everytime you add new content) and I found it kinda buggy and/or lacking features (i.e. cover art has to be low rez images)

    AppleTV - you have to hack it to get it to play "other" content but the atvusb-creator tool () makes it pretty easy. And XBMC as an interface is pretty sweet. It has built-in storage, or you can hang a USB drive off of it, or you can stream to it. It cannot play a bunch of higher rez stuff although you can always crunch it down to an Apple compatible 720 format.

    Mac mini - newer models can play most anything and you can throw XBMC or Plex (derivative of XBMC) on there for an interface (the new Aeon Stark w/XBMC will blow you away). Or if you have Leopard, you can use the built-in Front Row with plug-ins like Sapphire. Or use standalone players like VLC or QuickTime (with Perian). Con's? Costs way more than any of the above devices.
  5. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Sony PlayStation 3 is still the best piece of home cinema equipment you can currently buy in my opinion.

    It will play all of the formats you mention (including MP4 or H264 within WMV containers) and it will also play DVDs and Blu Ray discs. If you live in North America you will have access to an online video store where you can buy episodes of TV shows and movies just like iTunes.

    You can also buy a TV tuner for it (if you live in Europe or Australasia or anywhere with DVB-T signals) which will allow you to record over the air broadcasts and pause and rewind live TV just like Sky+, V+ or Tivo.

    You can copy files directly to the console's hard drive, which itself can be upgraded as it's just a standard 2.5" laptop SATA drive. I have 320GB installed in mine. It has a web browser which is compatible with YouTube, BBC iPlayer etc.

    Oh, did I mention it just happens to be an extremely powerful games console with hundreds of games on the market?

    Yeah. You could spend your money on AppleTV, but I don't think that would be good value at all when you consider what PS3 can do.
  6. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    If I understand this correctly, you are saying that the OP should convert his already lossy-encoded video files to another lossy format (mpeg-2) so that he can play them on outdated optical media in his DVD player? Why would you do this? That's like saying that the best way to read a book is to make a photocopy of a photocopy of it.

    To the OP: As TuckBodi said, there are some DVD players that will play other file formats, most often DivX. My brother-in-law has one and it is pretty finicky, and yes, the interface is absolutely horrible. It works if you already have one, but I sure wouldn't spend any money buying one of them.

    The PS3 sounds like a nice option. A bit pricey, but you get Blu-ray and games out of it.

    How close is your computer to your TV? If they are pretty close together, or if you have a laptop, you could use a DVI-to-HDMI cable (or whatever cable you need for your particular setup) for video and either a standard stereo RCA cable to mini-plug or a Toslink with a mini-plug connector on one end for audio. That's what I use to stream Netflix to my TV. Total cost would probably be less than $20, depending on how long your cable run needs to be.
  7. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    I'll give the PS3 credit for its hardware and expandability but man, you would think Sony, with all their money, could hire a GUI programmer to clean up that horrendous interface! I'm all about the front end and think it should be intuitive enough you shouldn't have to open a user manual to figure out how to use it every time you turn around. The PS3 is just a confusing mess of menus. That said, yes, it is a wonderful piece of hardware though.

    Just wish it could run something like Aeon Stark on it. Is there something like the following (which runs on PC's, Mac's and they're working on a lite version to run on Xbox'es and AppleTV's)? That would be the bomb. Until then I'd leave the PS3 to the hard line gamers and not the home theater enthusiasts.
  8. Donar macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2008
    P O P C O R N H O U R It is not cheap but "worthwile".
  9. SFGator macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2009

    I have a Windows XP and a PS3. I use iTunes exclusively.

    I have had a hard time streaming mp4 files to my PS3. I really don't want to recopy each file as a WMV file. I've tried using Nero 8 with Mediahome 3 and have not had great results. I expect to not be able to stream DRM protected files, but the bulk of my library is burned CDs.

    Can anyone offer any software suggestions to fix my problem? I presume if I had AppleTV this would not be an issue. I have read about NAS like Iomega Home Media Network etc.

  10. tom1971 macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2007
    Just get a patchstick and play the files with ATVFiles.

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